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Did Mondello get a discount on daughter’s wedding?
Nassau County GOP chairman Joseph Mondello is coming out swinging against testimony by restaurateur Harendra Singh that could muddy the waters of his Senate confirmation hearing to be the next U.S. ambassador to Trinidad and Tobago.
On Monday, Singh — the star witness in the federal corruption trial of Edward Mangano, the former Nassau County executive, and John Venditto, the former Oyster Bay Town supervisor — testified on Monday that he discounted the June 2006 wedding of Mondello’s daughter, Lisa, at The Woodlands in Woodbury. The discount was first from $65,000 to $55,000, then $40,000 and then to $35,000, he said. Singh said the requests to cut the price three times came at the request of Venditto and his aides. Singh said he did so because Venditto, whom he testified was his benefactor in getting business from the town, needed to stay in Mondello’s good graces.
A Republican Party official told The Point on Wednesday that the trial testimony “was on the radar screen” of the Trump administration but he didn’t think the testimony would trip up Mondello’s nomination unless there are more revelations.
Mondello angrily denied to The Point that he had any conversations with Singh or asked for a discount. “I got what I paid for, nothing more,” he said. Asked whether anyone would have intervened to ask on his behalf, he said, “I don’t know. How can I know that?”
A $37,250 undated bill Mondello gave to The Point shows the cost of the wedding was $34,745, including added charges for costs during the event, such as meals for the band, security and a gratuity. Mondello’s bill showed a $9,750 balance, which the GOP leader said he paid.
Mondello took pains to point out that he paid $150 per person for a wedding with about 250 guests, which he said was a lot of money 12 years ago for a venue at the town’s golf course. “After all, this place isn’t The Plaza hotel,” he said. “It isn’t even the Fox Hollow.”
Cynthia Nixon wades into NYCHA debate
It can seem like everyone in politics is visiting New York City Housing Authority apartments these days, and Wednesday it was gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon’s turn.
After being invited on Twitter by Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, who himself has unabashed higher-office ambitions, Nixon toured multiple damaged or problematic apartments in the Albany Houses in Crown Heights.
She appeared to be shaken when she emerged. It was her first time in NYCHA units.
“I wasn’t prepared for what a health crisis this is,” she said with a sometimes quavering voice. “You can feel how unhealthy this is.”
NYCHA residents have been hit with heat and hot water loss in recent months, in addition to lead scares and the usual mold and disrepair. And Nixon spread the blame around, not entirely excusing her old friend and political mentor, Mayor Bill de Blasio, noting she was troubled by NYCHA head Shola Olatoye’s handling of the recent lead paint inspection scandal.
But then she got to the issue, which was to needle Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, saying that if she were governor she wouldn’t get into a “pissing contest” with the mayor.
Cuomo, who also visited NYCHA this month, was in Albany trying to hammer out a budget that is expected to include $250 million in NYCHA funding. Such are the benefits of incumbency.
Meanwhile, NYCHA residents wait and watch the show.
Point in flux
Penn Station redevelopment slips into budget at last minute
The latest battle in the war between the New York City mayor and the New York State governor began Tuesday night over a proposal from the governor’s office to give the state power to redevelop a swath of midtown Manhattan without environmental review, zoning requirements or approval from the city.
It’s an extraordinary plan that would create the “New York Pennsylvania Station Area Redevelopment Project.” It would cover property between 30th and 34th streets and between Sixth and Eighth avenues.
Proposed language released Tuesday night would give the state’s urban development corporation power to “undertake the planning, design and redevelopment” of the area. And, according to an early version obtained by The Point, the project wouldn’t be subject to the Public Authorities Control Board, the State Environmental Quality Review Act or any city law, land use rules or zoning.
We’re not kidding.
State officials told The Point Wednesday afternoon that the language was being revised and would ultimately allow for community input, a role for local officials and environmental review. But they said they did not have a new version available for release.
City Hall sources told The Point they first learned of the proposal Tuesday evening. City Council Speaker Corey Johnson said the plan “must be stopped.”
“If this goes through, the state will be able to do whatever it wants, whenever it wants, in one of the busiest sections of Manhattan,” Johnson said in a statement Wednesday. “We’re talking no environmental review process and zero input from New York City.”
The sweeping plan emerged in the wake of a previous state attempt to direct new tax revenues from a large stretch of Manhattan development to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. And it came as Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has trumpeted efforts to redevelop Penn Station.
A Cuomo spokesman noted that “documents are exchanged hundreds of times” over the course of budget negotiations.
Perhaps this one was just an attempt to flex some muscles or to inject excitement into the tough, tedious days of budget talks.
But clearly, someone in Albany thought this was a good idea.
Randi F. Marshall
Self-driving cars aren’t so different
Singh’s testimony fueling political attacks
DuWayne Gregory, presiding officer of the Suffolk County Legislature, is ramping up his political attacks on Rep. Peter King as he seeks to replace him in Congress — or more likely, to keep pace with his vociferous opponent in the June 26 Democratic primary, Liuba Grechen Shirley. She’s issued three anti-King news releases just this month, one calling him a “crook.”
Gregory held his first news conference targeting King in Central Islip Wednesday afternoon. He called on the Republican congressman to explain whether there was a pay-for-play agreement with Harendra Singh, the chief witness in the ongoing federal corruption trial against former Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano, which is turning into a name game for elected officials.
Singh donated $2,500 twice to King, Gregory told The Point, noting that it came out at the trial that Singh had approached Mangano and then-State Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos for help to obtain visas for relatives living in India.
“I want Peter King to disclose any meetings with Singh or on his behalf,” Gregory said. “I’m asking him in the interest of transparency.”
Gregory also called on King to return the political donations from Singh, who has admitted trying to bribe public officials, or to give them to charity.